Combine the olive oil, onion and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan. There should be enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. If not, add more. Set over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the chile flakes and stir for 15 seconds. Grab a tomato from the can with your hand and, holding it below the top of the saucepan, crush it directly into the saucepan. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes, then add all the juices from the can. Add ¼ cup water to the can, swish it around to collect all the juices and pour it in.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes lose their acidity and the mixture thickens, about 40 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree to your desired consistency.
Return the soup to the saucepan. Add ¼ cup water to the blender, swish it around to collect all the soup and pour it in. Set over low heat. When the soup starts to steam, stir in the cream, then season to taste with salt. Serve steaming hot.
Tomato Basil Soup: Add 3 fresh basil sprigs to the soup 10 minutes before the soup is done simmering. Discard before blending.
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